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Hey Spitz, What’ve You Been Watching? April 2014

May 1, 2014

(This article will be spoiler free!)

ああ!春が来た! While I’m stoked to be able to stop wearing uncomfortable Winter clothes, this past month’s bright, sunny weather has brought with it less opportunity than I would prefer to spend time with the things I’d like to.
It’s interesting talking to different kinds of people about anime and hearing not only their specific tastes in genre or what-have-you, but also their methods of watching it, or preference for specific types of series.
I worked with a guy at one point who was baffled by the concept of an anime series having a mere 12 episode run time, and another individual whom didn’t see the point of a slice-of-life series taking place primarily at a high school.
The manner with which series can vary from one another in such drastic ways, and not only by genre but also run time and method of delivery, is one of the anime medium’s great strengths for sure, and I’m always quick to point out to those who say “I don’t really like anime.” that if they haven’t liked what they’ve seen, they simply weren’t looking hard enough, or in the correct places.
April was rather light, but I saw a couple things through which I was eagerly looking forward to, so in hindsight I consider it a great success.
Here’s what I finished this past month:

 

1386626588146Takanashi Rikka Kai: Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai!:
  Togashi Yuuta once suffered from Chuunibyou, a psychological syndrome which middle schoolers often find themselves dealing with where the world around them seems to be conspiring against them, and darkness resides in every shadow.
Understanding his past foolishness, however, Togashi-kun, now in High School, is doing his best to avoid and forget his memories of the past.
That is, until he meets his classmate, Takanashi Rikka, who is knee-deep in Chuunibyou…
Takanashi Rikka Kai is a big screen retelling of the events of Chu-2’s tv anime, but told from the perspective of Rikka as she recounts her memory of what transpired to the other members of the Far East Magic Society.

What I thought:Please don’t watch this version of the story if you
haven’t seen the tv anime, and if you have, there isn’t much for you here.”
This is such a strange movie…
The pace is entirely too quick, leaving little to no explanation to what is going on or why, and the cuts between scenes are incredibly jarring in many cases. Since this is supposed to be Rikka’s recollection of events, a couple of the scenes which are shown don’t make a whole lot of sense within the context of this movie, as she wasn’t around during those moments.
Without doing a side-by-side comparison, the visual quality doesn’t appear much different from how I recall the original looked (granted, KyoAni tv anime always look amazing), but there is new voice-work, which, maybe due to my love for the tv anime or maybe not, I feel like is inferior to the original’s.
If you’ve seen the first season of Chu-2’s tv anime, Rikka Kai could be a good opportunity to revisit a harshly abridged version of it with a few extra scenes thrown in at either end (a couple of which set up the second season of the tv anime), but I’d never, ever recommend this movie over the tv anime, and I expect if one were to watch the movie first (or on its own), it would drive them up the wall trying to keep up with what is going on; and leave them with a bitter taste for the series as a whole by the time the credits roll.
It’s a tough one to recommend. Part of me wishes the additional scenes would have been released as an OVA or something, since as a coherent film, Rikka Kai pretty clearly fails, and the whole premise of Rikka thinking back over what transpired is barely even addressed, so I’m unsure what good they expected to be doing by releasing this version of the story (I could make a few guesses, but I try to stay positive). The additional scenes are great, but having to watch a drastically inferior version of what is a truly wonderful story to get to them just feels crummy.
A few brief, exclusive scenes aside, Takanashi Rikka Kai: Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! does very little to make it worth the time for fans of the tv anime, and due to its poorly handled pace, is a film adaptation I wouldn’t recommend to those new to the series. Watch the tv anime instead!

 

53549lNagi no Asukara:
Long after Man chose to give up the ability to dwell in the sea given to them by their God, and instead live upon the land, separating society into two distinct factions of people, Nagi no Asukara tells the story of a group of sea-dwelling middle-school students who, as their local school has recently been closed, tend to their studies on land.
Time on land isn’t always inviting however, as Hikari, Manaka and the rest come to find out after being welcomed with less than open arms by their land-dwelling classmates.

What I thought: “A wonderful world to spend time
in, with characters equally as likable inhabiting it.”
Another treasure carried over from the Fall season. Nagi made a terrific first impression with its excellent production quality (coming from P.A. Works, this series looks and sounds amazing!), and its, while at times mind-boggling, nonetheless tangibly done concept of a race of people living at the sea floor.
The cast of characters at first came off as quite annoying and very childish, but these are individuals that grow substantially over the course of the series, and while I can see many people being turned away by the adolescent love trapezoids that are flying left and right within the plot, I think Nagi does an excellent job at making the world in which the story takes place interesting and appealing, and the characters, once you spend some time with them, are quite likable.
The writing is excellent, and the sense of place is done perfectly. Nagi is a series that knows when to speak and when not to, and it is a series which does very bold things with its plot that drove home my investment even further.
This all makes the world in which this series takes place seem less like an idea, and more like a living, breathing place full of mystery and uncertainty.
It may at times get just a tad too wishy washy with its overall themes, but Nagi was still one of the highlights over the Fall and Winter seasons, and I give it my utmost recommendation. This one’s a keeper!
A gorgeous series full of likable characters and taking place in an interesting world, Nagi may require some brain-throttling to get around the premise, but it’s a story well worth seeing, and easily one of the best series from the past few seasons.

 

mofs_MMDMG01Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica: Hangyaku no Monogatari:
Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica: Hangyaku no Monogatari continues the story of magical girl Kaname Madoka and her small group of friends as they continue to build bonds with one another and fight the shadows which lurk in the darkness.
(Excuse the generic synopsis. There is no good way to say what this movie is about without ruining the story from the previous entries for those who haven’t seen them.)

What I thought: “A tremendous follow-up,
well-deserving of its place in the series.”
The wait for this movie to hit disc form has been excruciating, and the only thing more difficult than waiting to see it was avoiding spoilers.
Do you folks realize how difficult it was to do that over the stretch of these past half-dozen months? On the internet?
Shew. Anyway.
I love a series that allows artists to go absolutely nuts with creativity, and following in the foot-steps of – and even surpassing the previous entries in Madoka’s story, Hangyaku does just that. This movie absolutely pops at the seams with creativity. If not every shot – every scene is jaw-dropping, and the eye candy doesn’t stop with the designs alone; everything is animated and directed superbly, and this all accompanied by new (as well as rearranged) music and, as per usual, nicely done voice-work.
The thing that trips me up a little bit is the story. I’ll tip my hat; In typical fashion, all of my expectations and assumptions I had for what this movie might be were slung clean across the room; something which I was pleased to see, as that was the tv anime (/first two movies’) best aspects in my opinion. The events of this film were nowhere remotely near what I expected, and while this is a very good thing, and I enjoyed the tale told here quite a bit, aspects of the story found in this film have yet to really digest, and I’m unsure how I feel about what this movie does for the series as a whole. I don’t dislike it by any means, but I feel kind of weird about bits of it.
I would of course recommend this film to anyone who has already seen the tv anime or first two movies, but would I consider it on par or surpassing that which was accomplished with what was done prior to it? I honestly do not know. Possibly. There were numerous wonderful moments which I feel like alone made it worth the price of admission, some scenes which I can’t seem to stop going back and rewatching again and again, and overall, I think this film far exceeded my expectations for how the story of Madoka Magica could be followed up upon, but it wasn’t without bits which had me scratching my head.
Come the time the film wrapped up, the only thought on my mind was “When is the next one. There’s a next one, right?”
It may be best to consider Hangyaku no Monogatari a sort of epilogue or supplementary story to what was laid out in the tv anime (or first two movies),  but regardless of how you ultimately handle the happenings of the plot, it is a film that is filled to the brim with creative artwork, stylish action and A-Class production quality. The wait was well worth it.

 

Kill_Me_Baby_CoverKill Me Baby:
 Oribe Yasuna is allegedly a high schooler with a happy-go-lucky personality and a tendency to put herself on the receiving end of her friend Sonya’s fists, thanks to her own empty-headed antics.
Sonya is a trained assassin, who despite having no interest in Yasuna’s company, regularly finds herself in it.
These two girl frequently cross paths with Goshiki Agiri, a carefree shinobi who is always trying to sell her secret techniques and ninja tools.

What I thought: “Largely one-
noted, but it has its moments.”
While I like the overall look of the series, there were parts of the presentation which I thought were grating. I thought the OP in particular was incredibly annoying (though the ED was pretty catchy, so maybe it makes up for it?).
The comedy can be pretty funny, but as a whole I feel like this series might have been better as a collection of shorts, rather than full length episodes. The interactions between the characters are entertaining, but over the course of the series, they are largely the same. While Oribe’s antics may change, the end product is pretty much always the same; Sonya will intimidate her, and/or Agiri will pop up and try to sell her wares.
It wasn’t a bad series, but I feel like they didn’t have enough comedic material to spread around.
Sporting a clean look and a fun tone, Kill Me Baby might not blow your socks off, but it’s a slice-of-life series with a fun angle and a few genuinely hilarious moments.

 

April! I made the mistake of jumping the gun on Tonari no Seki-kun, assuming it was over with last month. Whoops! In my defense, it can often be difficult to tell how long some series will run unless there is an official announcement at some point. Not that it continuing should be interpreted as a bad thing; I’m looking forward to it quite a bit, but I figured I’d mention my mistake. I’ll be sure to give it another mention, as well as some brief updates as to whether my opinion of it had changed come the end.
I’m still plucking away at Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood when I can find the time for it, and currently the series resting at the top of my backlog queue are Karas, Devil May Cry The Animation, and Psycho Pass, so hopefully these will appear in next month’s article, though things of course never go exactly as planned.
Oh, and by the way, did you hear? Spitz’s Soapbox was featured in one of Ninety’s Blog Spotlights just this past month. I even share some sweet childhood-era tidbits which even some of my friends don’t know about (Until now I guess). That article can be found here, and maybe while you’re there, you could check out some of Ninety’s other stuff? I’m sure they’d appreciate that.
That’s April on my end though.
次回まで。
(It’s getting warmer out there! Keep your plots unspoiled!)

From → Anime

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  1. Spitz’s Year End Wrap Up 2014 | Spitz's Soapbox

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